The City Council member representing Chinatown, Margaret Chin, received a notification from Facebook that suggested she change the category of her official account “NYC Council District 1 – Council Member Margaret S. Chin” on the social media platform from the current “Government Official” to “Government Official + Chinese Restaurant.”
Chin was not pleased and took to another social media platform to talk about it. She wrote on her Twitter “I’m glad that @Facebook recognizes that I have a Chinese name but not every Chinese American elected official runs a Chinese restaurant. It’s #APAHM! Fix your microaggressive algorithm!”
She said the alert was based on deep-rooted stereotypes about Asian immigrants. What added insult to injury was that the occurrence happened in May, which is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
I’m glad that @Facebook recognizes that I have a Chinese name but not every Chinese American elected official runs a Chinese restaurant. 😒It’s #APAHM! Fix your microaggressive algorithm! pic.twitter.com/N72A6rdziY
— Margaret S. Chin (@CM_MargaretChin) 10 May 2018
Councilwoman Chin’s demand for Facebook to explain itself was supported by many followers on Twitter.
Sarah Pollack, a spokesperson for Facebook, told the World Journal on May 11 that the company took the matter seriously and had spent the whole day investigating. Pollack said Facebook would like to deeply apologize to the council member, and will keep investigating to find out what caused the system to make this mistake.
In a statement Margaret Chin issued afterward, she said the notification from Facebook sends a very disappointing message to its users with diverse backgrounds, and “while making this correction presented only a minor inconvenience, I have to wonder how many other Asian Americans and communities of color have felt marginalized, misrepresented or stereotyped – either directly or indirectly – by this technology.”
The story originally appeared on World Journal (in Chinese)